We’ve created a list of words that you might hear when learning about activism. Some of these terms can have complex meanings and can mean different things in different situations, to different people, but we’ve added simple explanations to help you start your journey into learning about activism.
This is only a short list to get you started. You can download a printable version of this document here, and begin adding your own words as you learn more.


When people are treated poorly, excluded, and/or denied goods, services, and resources because they have disabilities


Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political *campaigning, *rallies, street *marches, *strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes


When people are *discriminated against because of their age


Being an ally means to be an active supporter of a group of people (that you don’t belong to yourself) who are experiencing *inequality. Being an active supporter means learning about their history and *cause, stepping aside and giving space for their voice to be heard or speaking out when you notice prejudiced opinions or behaviour against that group


A message written on a long strip of material


Working in an organised and active way towards a particular goal – usually a political or social goal


A particular goal, such as a big political issue, that someone is committed to and prepared to defend


A repeated rhythmic phrase, typically one shouted or sung in unison by a crowd


A form of government in which the people choose who governs them by voting in an *election. Democracy requires freedom of speech, inclusiveness and equality


Action taken by a large group or collection of groups of people for a political or other type of *cause; it often involves walking in a mass *march and either begins or ends by gathering to *rally or to hear speakers


The unequal or unfair treatment of a person based upon some personal characteristic – such as gender, race or disability


Having a range of people with various racial, ethnic, wealth, and cultural backgrounds and various lifestyles, experience, and interests together in the same place


We hold a General Election in Britain to decide, by voting, which *MP will represent our local area. The person with the most votes wins a seat in the House of Commons, and the political party that wins the most seats, usually becomes the new government.


Concern about and action aimed at protecting the environment


Movements toward full social, political, economic equality of all human beings no matter what their gender is. There are many different types of Feminism.


This word covers a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay or bisexual


Social inequality is when different groups of people in society are not given equal chances in life – they do not get the same opportunities, punishments and rewards just because of who they happen to be (their class, race, gender or if they are differently abled for example)


Walk along public roads in an organised procession as a form of *protest


Portable cone-shaped instrument that amplifies sound

MP or Member of Parliament

Every place in the UK has a MP that works for the people who live in that area. They work for you and even if you’re too young to vote you can still email, or write to them

Nonviolent civil disobedience

A way of *protesting or *demonstrating by not obeying the law but without being violent – for example, blocking a road and stopping traffic; or going on a particular *march that has been banned by government


A situation in which people are governed in an unfair and cruel way and prevented from having opportunities and freedom


A message written on a rectangular piece of cardboard and attached to a stick. Learn how to make your own placard here.


Advantages and power awarded to specific groups of people over others


To publicly state your disagreement with something important and serious that is effecting people’s lives


When a group of people are treated unfairly because of their race – the word ‘‘race’‘ is used to describe people based on their physical appearance, often using the colour of their skin to identify them


Another word used to describe a form of *protest – it means a group of people coming together in support of a political *campaign


When people are *discriminated against because of their sex


When a group of employees refuse to work as a form of *protest, typically in an attempt to make changes to their working conditions

Take to the streets

To gather together in the public streets of a town or city – usually to *protest


The fear, hatred, disbelief, or mistrust of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles